I don’t know about you, but I’ve already got my DVR programmed for 10pm on September 21st to catch Big Al’s Network Television Debut on “Detroit 1-8-7”. I am thrilled for the big guy – I just hope that he doesn’t fall into the haze of booze and drugs that so often come with stardom. God forbid he become “Big Al Lohan” or “Tiger Muskavito”. But Jackie and I, (the “little people”) have vowed to help keep him grounded. And when your Al’s size… that’s a pretty big piece of ground. (Just kidding big guy!)
Anyway… reading Al’s blog reminded me of my own foray into on-camera work: My starring…uh…supporting…uh…eleven second role in Beverly Hills Cop III. (The fact that the movie was a complete failure compared to the first two films in the series doesn’t need to be mentioned here).
I’ll never forget answering the phone and finding Director John Landis on the other end of the line. After some brief Hollywood chit-chat (NOT) he asked if I would be interested in playing a disc jockey in the new movie he was shooting. With radio as my first love, I’d never even thought about branching into film. But why not? A surge of adrenaline flooded my body and I heard myself saying, “Absolutely! When do I fly out?”
It was then he explained that all he needed me to do was record a few lines at the radio station and send them to him. I wasn’t going to be seen in the film, my voice would just come out of a boom box during a scene set in a chop shop. Mr. Landis – or “John” as I like to call him - asked me to include the temperature and asked what I thought would be a good one. “Well… how about 67 degrees?”, I said. “Great!” he replied.
And with that we hung up. Soon after, my Canadian engineer John “Ankles” Stewart recorded me doing my lines. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie (or did but chose to forget it) my lines went something like this: “This is Dick Purtan…it’s 67 degrees and now here are the Supremes with ‘Come See About Me’.”
I sent out the tape – and a few weeks later another call came in from John Landis. This couldn’t be good. Thoughts flooded my brain - I must have screwed up the role and he was calling to tell me they were going with someone else… Not Jim Harper… No!
Turns out he just wanted me to change the temperature.
The scene I was in featured a bunch of guys breaking into a chop shop in downtown Detroit while my voice came out of a radio boom box. The problem was, the scene had already been shot and the guys were wearing jackets. John Landis didn’t think they would be wearing jackets if it was 67 degrees, so we mutually decided to change it to… 57 degrees. This now joins the ranks of other great script changes like: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” from the original “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a rat’s ass!”
So “Ankles” and I headed back into the studio and re-recorded it.
The rest is cinematic history! Although I will admit that I did suffer an injury as a result of all this. When the guys break into the chop-shop they start shooting and the boom box radio was caught in a spray of bullets. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was shot in both my woofer and my tweeter. But, hey, that’s Showbiz.
I occasionally get royalty checks (some as high as 3 dollars!) for the 11 seconds I was in the movie and am still waiting for the phone to ring with my next role on the silver screen. It doesn’t have to be a starring role, as Big Al mentioned in his blog, “there are no small parts”. (And I’d like to add that in Big Al’s case “There are only actors with small parts”).
Have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here Monday!